Many people don’t think about having healthy teeth until they run into a problem. Too often, some use brushing as a cosmetic remedy to ensure that their teeth are white and stain free only. Flossing may only happen when there are visible food particles. What happens when your daily routine of brushing, flossing, and using mouth rinses for breath freshening are not enough? Here are five surprising facts that you may not know about potential hazards to your teeth and health.
Do you ever use your teeth instead of tools? Many do so without even thinking about it.
Consider how often you’ve used your teeth to tear open a plastic wrapper or pry the plastic off a package or can. Some even use their teeth as a vice grip to open small lids on medication bottle assuming that the relatively soft plastic is not harmful.
Using your teeth in this way puts them at risk for breaking or chipping which can lead to cavities or cause loosening, chipping, and breaking teeth. The pressure of biting down on solid objects can cause pain in the gums and the root of the tooth.
Your teeth aren’t nail clippers, so don’t bite or chew your fingernails (or toenails). Biting your nails can also lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of your gums due to an accumulation of bacteria on the teeth and below the gum line.
You may be wondering how this happens. One reason may be because people don’t think about washing their hands before they bite their nails.
Some prescription medications can lead to staining and tooth discoloration. This includes tetracycline and doxycycline antibiotics, also antibacterial mouthwashes like chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride. Antihistamines, antipsychotics, and certain blood pressure medications are known to cause tooth discoloration. However, patient information leaflets give these warnings and describe what to do in the event your teeth are affected.
Recreational and illicit drugs come with no such warning. Too often it’s assumed that drug addicts have bad teeth due to poor hygiene or personal neglect.
Web MD describes, in detail, how illegal drugs harm your teeth and lead to a wide range of tooth related health problems. Some drug users don’t seek regular medical and dental care, however, one of the primary reasons why drugs lead to declining dental health is because they cause the body to produce less saliva, which is important for maintaining healthy and clean teeth.
Cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin are known to cause teeth grinding and clenching and can lead to severe jaw pain and broken teeth.
Many of these drugs create an acidic environment in the user’s body, leading to acid reflux and other issues that can lead to poor dental health.
Most people know that too much candy, sweets, and sugary drinks are bad for your teeth. But even some healthy foods and drinks can be just as damaging.
Juices and smoothies are often the drink of choice because they are packed with vitamins. But many commercially prepared drinks are loaded with sugar to enhance the taste.
Doing something as simple as drinking through a straw can help to limit the contact with and damage to your tooth enamel. Gummy vitamins and dried fruit are sticky and can remain on the surface of your teeth or deposit in between and below the gum line causing plaque buildup.
Sodas and carbonated beverages can erode your tooth enamel. In addition to staining, coffee and other caffeine-containing products can cause dry mouth. Alcohol is acidic and can lead to dry mouth as well.
A word of warning about chewing ice. A flavored snow cone or Slushy aside, chewing ice cubes can cause chipping and breaking teeth, jaw pain, and hot-cold tooth sensitivity. Instead, allow ice chips to melt in your mouth like a piece of hard candy.
Not everyone picks up the phone and makes a dentist appointment at the first sign of tooth discomfort. If your teeth become hot-cold sensitive you may try to solve the problem by adjusting the temperature of your food and drinks, or by switching to toothpaste for people with sensitive teeth.
People treat swollen or bleeding gums with salt water rinses and a new toothbrush. Some people believe that a toothache in a certain area may be connected to a sinus headache and attempt to treat the symptoms with over-the-counter sinus and allergy remedies. Sometimes these measures will help with symptoms, but recurring problems can be a sign of a serious gum infection that may have progressed to full gum disease.
You’ve heard the adage, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It’s enough in your daily care routine to brush two or three times a day with a soft-bristle brush. Using a hard bush can irritate your gums. Avoid abrasive materials that can damage your tooth enamel. Floss gently to avoid breaking the gums between your teeth.
To keep your teeth healthy, follow these simple rules.
• Remember that teeth aren’t work tools, but are used for eating, drinking, smiling, and talking. • Avoid drugs and alcohol that can permanently damage your teeth. • Choose food and drinks that are healthy for your teeth. • Don’t ignore ongoing or recurring tooth pain and mouth discomfort. • Brushing, flossing, breath freshening, and at-home tooth whitening is not a long-term replacement for professional dental care.
When brushing and flossing is not enough to keep your teeth clean, breath fresh, and gums pain-free, it’s time to make an appointment for preventive dentistry services including teeth cleaning and fluoride treatments. You should visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and x-ray to make sure your teeth health above and below the gum line.